Sunday, July 25, 2021
Home Nautic Life Virgin Islands Professional Charter Industry responds to Covid-19 concerns

Virgin Islands Professional Charter Industry responds to Covid-19 concerns

A decades-strong industry and potent contributor to the U.S. Virgin Islands economy, which is often unseen due to the nature of its business, is now in full view public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 100 U.S. Virgin Islands based professionally crewed charter vessels are following U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. Jr’s Emergency Executive Orders to not accept guests and, like the territory’s shoreside populace, to shelter in place.

This mandate comes at the peak of the marine tourism charter season when this fleet of U.S.-based vessels are normally scattered among the territory’s, as well as neighboring islands’, anchorages on customized 7-day itineraries for their guests. Thus, these vessels, as well as over 70 U.S.-based day charter vessels, are now docked, moored or anchored in what seems increasing numbers in the territory’s bays.

“The Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) has 144 USVI-based charter vessel members all of whom are presently ‘grounded’ rather than cruising the Virgin Islands with tourists on board. The professional crew of these Virgin Islands-based yachts have their hearts vested in the Virgin Islands, and wish, as much as land-based residents, to preserve the health both of the people of the Virgin Islands and its environment. In addition to the home-based charter fleet there are also a combination of professionally-run charter yachts who have arrived in the USVI from islands to the south, and cruising yachts with their owners living aboard (often in retirement). VIPCA would like to emphasize to the Virgin Islands public that both home-based and visiting boaters are naturally considerate to their host islands, and will be complying with the Governor’s Executive Orders in addition to maritime regulations such as emptying sewage offshore both by free will and legal obligation,” says Oriel Blake, VIPCA executive director.

Yachts welcome, just follow procedures

Recognizing the influx of yachts, on March 27, U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Albert Bryan Jr. welcomed U.S.-based and other arriving vessels to the territory. He further encouraged that post-pandemic, those not based in the territory to join the USVI marine family and economy.

However, the Governor, as he has outlined in his Emergency Executive Orders for safety of those on shore, reminded all vessels to abide by the orders and compliance requests of agencies such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), and any further Emergency Executive Orders issued by the Governor.

“We’re asking the boaters to please adhere to the mandates issued by the Governor by registering for an anchoring permit, completing the health assessment, practicing social distancing by remaining on their vessel and limiting trips to shore, and not to onboard any passengers during this time. We also require that all vessels follow our requirements for the disposal of solid and liquid waste. For any questions please contact DPNR’s Division of Environmental Enforcement at (340) 774-3320 in St. Thomas or (340)773-5776 in St. Croix, or by email at dee@dpnr.vi.gov. We look forward to your return under normal circumstances when you may experience true Virgin Islands hospitality,” says J.P. Oriol, DPNR Commissioner.

Oriol adds that his department has received over 100 anchoring applications since last Thursday. The Department’s officers are now conducting patrols and telling boaters where to go online and get the information. DPNR has identified 19 bays on St. Thomas and Water Island, 4 in St. John and 6 in St. Croix for anchoring specifically until April 30.

Additionally, the Virgin Islands National Park (VINP) has 200 moorings and this week will announce a new mooring reservation program.

“Boaters will need either a VI permit for VI waters/bays or an NPS (National Park Service) reservation, not both,” says Nigel Fields, VINP Superintendent.

Both DPNR and the VINP remind all vessel operators that it is illegal to discharge or discard refuse of any kind within the 3 nautical mile limit of the territorial waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands. More information about provisioning concierge (including local produce), trash removal and crew support networks can be found at vipca.org.

“The professional crew of the home-based charter yachts are very respectful towards the environment and are following usual sewage discharge practices which involve taking their yacht three miles offshore before releasing their holding tanks of black and grey water. VIPCA hopes that the sizable number of visiting yachts who have arrived from other parts of the Caribbean will continue to follow the principles of good boating and shall comply with the Virgin Islands Government regulations including emptying holding tanks offshore,” Says VIPCA’s Blake.

DPNR also recommends vessels make use of online concierge services to the greatest extent possible for provisioning, more information can be found at vipca.org.

Key role in post-pandemic tourism recovery

VIPCA’s has called on its members to be ambassadors to those visiting yachts and to assist in passing on information.

“Now more than ever, we need to lead by example as it pertains to all of the circumstances that have fallen upon us. Please encourage the Social Distancing, Quarantine-if-needed, Holding Tanks usage, respecting the policies on our beaches to all of those around you. Our role as an industry is to protect the waters, the shores, the people and the culture of the Virgin Islands as it interacts from a marine perspective. Let’s work together,” says Dare Blankenhorn, VIPCA president.

In 2019, the annual direct contribution to the U.S. Virgin Islands economy made by 150 week/term charter vessels, 75-day charter, 17 sport-fishing and 55-bareboat charter vessels was estimated at approximately $45 million. This contribution is made via support to businesses like supermarkets, fuel, restaurants, hotels, taxis, diving/fishing rentals, laundry, port authority fees and dockage.

The marine industry is one of the most resilient and was one of the first to generate tourism revenues for the territory after the 2017 hurricanes. Marine tourism offers immediate expansion possibilities. By welcoming these yachts to the territory during the world’s State of Emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, provided that they abide by the rules and that their crew do not come ashore until 14 days quarantine have been safely taken onboard, the Virgin Islands should hope to profit from the strengthening of the marine industry and by its expansion.

More information can be found at the DPNR website and the VIPCA website.

For additional information and questions, contact: Oriel Blake, executive director VIPCA, info@vipca.org

- Advertisment -

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

LATEST ARTICLES

The new Azimut 68, Flybridge Collection: a yacht for the world

The newest model in the Flybridge Collection is the Azimut 68: a high-tech yacht with a selection of three different layouts on...

Heesen is delighted to announce the delivery of YN 19550 MY Ela

Heesen is delighted to announce the delivery of YN 19550 MY Ela, formerly known as Project Altea. This magnificent yacht set sail...

Ice Yachts presents the Ice 70, designed by Felci Yacht Design

Elegance in the style choices, harmonious both internally and externally, in which classic and modern style elements are based, thus emphasizing exclusivity and...

Royal Huisman’s launch of the 58.5m / 192ft motoryacht PHI

One of this year's highlights is the launch of the 58.5m / 192ft motoryacht PHI at Royal Huisman's newbuild facility in Vollenhove,...

ISA Super Sportivo 100ft GTO, naval engineering by Studio Arnaboldi

Born into the profession, Marco Arnaboldi inherited the passion for yacht design from his father Angelo, but also his love for speed....

ClubSwan One Designs will compete at the 39 Copa del Rey MAPFRE

ClubSwan is the prestigious marque for those one-design boats built by the prestigious Finnish shipyard Nautor's Swan. ClubSwan first joined the Copa...

The Italian Sea Group: delivery of the new EVO120 motor yacht

Tecnomar, brand by The Italian Sea Group, global operator in the luxury yachting industry, active in the construction and refit of motor...

Zeelander Yachts’ flagship Z72 will debut at Cannes Yachting Festival

Zeelander Yachts is going to Cannes Yachting Festival (September 7-12) with a strong presence as the renowned Dutch shipyard will display two...

Canyon di Caprera project: research activities on cetaceans continue

From the 20th to the 23rd of July, One Ocean Foundation will be in in Sardinia for the positioning of three acoustic...

Lürssen presents project 13800 at the upcoming Monaco Yacht Show

Lürssen is delighted to reveal that they will be displaying the latest delivery from the yard at the Monaco Yacht Show this...